RICHMOND, VA – A $100,000 grant from the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation will allow more than a dozen rural Virginia community colleges to expand food emergency offerings to students, including the creation of three new programs, to address the growing issue of food insecurity on campus. The announcement of the grant and expanded student support was made in Roanoke during an annual faculty conference for Virginia’s Community Colleges.
This significant grant is part of Anthem’s continuing commitment to addressing Social Determinants of Health, such as food insecurity, as part of its commitment to improving the lives of the people in the communities it serves. According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released in January 2019, estimates of food insecurity among college students ranged from 9 percent to more than 50 percent, but food insecurity hits students hardest on community college campuses. Virginia’s Community Colleges are working with community partners, such as Anthem, to eliminate barriers to academic attainment and more importantly, better long-term health outcomes.
“Anthem’s mission is to improve lives and communities and to make healthcare simpler. To help us accomplish this we work with local organizations to develop community-specific approaches that remove barriers and improve health,” said Jennie Reynolds, president, Anthem’s Virginia Medicaid Plan. “Food insecurity is associated with some of the most serious and costly chronic health problems, and it’s important we continue to identify ways to address this serious issue in our communities where help is needed and can be readily accessed. That is why we are excited about this unique partnership with Virginia’s Community Colleges, which allows us to not only address this critical issue, but also helps to bring greater awareness to the problem of hunger on campus.”
The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation’s $100,000 grant will help expand 11 existing food pantries on rural community college campuses, and allow three campuses to open pantries benefitting more students and their families. Currently, 32,563 enrolled students and their families have access to food emergency programs at the 11 rural colleges. Based on current enrollment data, this support will allow another 8,658 families to access food emergency programs.
“Student success is not just a matter of what occurs inside a classroom,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “Being hungry, uncertainty over where you are sleeping tonight – these are real world challenges for many of our students, who need our help. This grant is an important step as we continue to seek partners and resources to help students address the social challenges that threaten college dreams.”
Community colleges that will benefit from the grant include:
• Blue Ridge Community College, Weyers Cave
• Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, Clifton Forge
• Danville Community College
• Eastern Shore Community College, Melfa
• Lord Fairfax Community College, Winchester
• Mountain Empire Community College, Big Stone Gap
• New River Community College, Dublin
• Patrick Henry Community College, Martinsville
• Paul D. Camp Community College, Franklin
• Rappahannock Community College, Warsaw
• Southside Community College, Alberta
• Southwest Virginia Community College, Richlands
• Virginia Highlands Community College, Abingdon
• Wytheville Community College
About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation
Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, promotes Anthem’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield serves. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that make up its Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets: maternal health, diabetes prevention, cancer prevention, heart health and healthy, active lifestyles, behavioral health efforts and programs that benefit people with disabilities. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Dollars for Dollars program which provides a 100 percent match of associates’ donations, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
About the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE)
The Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE) is the supporting arm of Virginia’s 23 community colleges. The VFCCE works to broaden educational access, support student success, and provide innovative solutions to workforce needs. Our mission is “providing access to education to all Virginians,” with a focus on expanding access and programs for underserved populations. To ensure access to high quality, affordable education, the VFCCE provides statewide leadership in raising funds for community college education, supplementing and supporting the activities of the 23 individual colleges, and securing support for major system-wide initiatives that could not be undertaken by any single college. For more information, please visit www.vfcce.org.
About Virginia’s Community Colleges
Since 1966, Virginia’s Community Colleges have given everyone the opportunity to learn and develop the right skills so lives and communities are strengthened. By making higher education and workforce training available in every part of Virginia, we elevate all of Virginia. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 241,000 students each year. For more information, please visit www.vccs.edu.
*Featured image (L to R): VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois, VFCCE Corporate and Foundations Manager Susan Nolan, Anthem’s Director of Marketing and Member Engagement Thomas Raper and President of Anthem’s Virginia Medicaid Plan Jennie Reynolds.